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Cuban Cinema

2003
Author:

Michael Chanan

Cuban Cinema

The only book-length study of Cuba’s film history published in English, and an essential guide to this vital cinematic tradition

Michael Chanan provides a comprehensive and absorbing account of Cuban cinema both before and after the revolution, deftly setting individual films and filmmakers within the larger framework of Cuba’s social, political, and cultural history. The only book-length study of Cuban cinema written in English, this indispensable work offers a unique perspective on the Cuban experience in the twentieth century.

Michael Chanan takes Latin American cinema on its own terms, and offers a fresh historical, personal, and tactile relationship to cinematic form and cultural creation.

Timothy Brennan, author of At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now

The earliest films made in Cuba—newsreel footage of the Cuban-Spanish-American War—date from the end of the nineteenth century, but Cuba cannot be said to have had an indigenous film industry before the revolution of 1959. The melodramas, musicals, and comedies made until then reflected Hollywood’s—and the United States’s—cultural domination of the island, but the revolution precipitated urgent debates about the role of cinema in a socialist country and the kinds of films best suited to the needs of the people and their rulers. Among the feature films, documentaries, and short subjects made in accordance with revolutionary principles are celebrated works by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Humberto Solás, and other filmmakers who have had a profound influence on both Latin American and world cinema.

Michael Chanan provides a comprehensive, authoritative, and absorbing account of Cuban cinema both before and after the revolution, deftly setting individual films and filmmakers within the larger framework of Cuba’s social, political, and cultural history. First published as The Cuban Image in 1984 to wide acclaim, Cuban Cinema now appears in a new, expanded edition that updates Chanan’s discussion to the beginning of the twenty-first century. New chapters address ongoing concerns about freedom of expression; Havana’s restored importance within the Latin American film industry through the Havana Film Festival, before state support for filmmakers dwindled in the economic collapse that followed the fall of the Soviet Union; Cuban cinema’s place within the globalized cultural market; and the changing audience for Cuban films.

The only book-length study of Cuban cinema written in English, this indispensable work on one of the world’s most vital national cinemas offers a unique perspective on the Cuban experience in the twentieth century.


Cuban Cinema

Michael Chanan is a documentary filmmaker and professor of cultural and media studies at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

Cuban Cinema

Michael Chanan takes Latin American cinema on its own terms, and offers a fresh historical, personal, and tactile relationship to cinematic form and cultural creation.

Timothy Brennan, author of At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now

[Chanan] excels at analyzing key films in appropriate sociopolitical and cultural contexts. The author cogently lays out and defends his positions, which he bases on years of research, standard written sources, and the many interviews he conducted in Cuba and elsewhere. Highly recommended.

Choice

There is no other English-language book as comprehensive in chronicling the history of Cuban cinema. An indispensable aid for teaching and researching the history and cultural politics of Cuban cinema.

New West Indian Guide

The book is a celebratory meditation on ideological effects of revolutionary Cuban cinema. A rich and engaging social history, full of quirky anecdotes and sharp analyses of dozens of films.

Afterimage

Chanan is demonstrably the leading authority on Cuban cinema. It will be hard for another book to to this lengthy work studying the cinema which has had a leading place in Latin American cinema ever since this art began to develop in the late 1800s.

Midwest Book Review

Cuban Cinema offers a comprehensive survey of the development of film in Cuba in the 20th century. This book combines in-depth description with theoretical analysis derived from critical approaches to Latin American cinema and presents them both in clear and precise prose. The additional chapters distinguish this edition of the book from its earlier version and add depth to our understanding of Cuban film.

Communication Booknotes Quarterly

Cuban Cinema

Contents

Preface Coppola on Cuban Film

Introduction:Forty Years On

PART I

Before the Revolution:Cinema at the Margins

ONE For the First Time
TWO Back to the Beginning
THREE The Nineteenth-Century Heritage
FOUR Melodrama and White Horses
FIVE Amateurs and Militants

PART II

SIX The Revolution Takes Power:A Cinema of Euphoria
SEVEN The Coming of Socialism
EIGHT The First Feature Films
NINE Beyond Neorealism
TEN The Documentary in the Revolution

The Revolution in the Documentary 218
ELEVEN The Current of Experimentalism
TWELVE Four Films
THIRTEEN Imperfect Cinema and the Seventies
FOURTEEN One Way or Another

PART III

New Generations:A Cinema of Readjustment
FIFTEEN Reconnecting
SIXTEEN Return ofthe Popular
SEVENTEEN Wonderland

Notes
Distribution Information
Index ofFilm Titles
Index ofNames